Today we focus on Pinotage, South Africa’s heritage grape which emits delicious aromas of ripe cherries, rooibos tea and liquorice. The wine pairs extremely well with almost any food with its rich chocolate flavor. It is currently one of the most widely planted local cultivars and has over the years, gained international recognition. It’s fascinating begins right here in South Africa and can be considered a Proudly South African brand!
The Pinotage History
The grape is a cross breed between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (AKA Cinsaut) masterminded by Prof. Abraham Izak Perold in 1925, only 4 seedlings were reaped and planted in his back garden in Stellenbosch. 2 years later the Professor left his home for a new position in Paarl abandoning the project, luckily Dr. Charlie Nieuhaus stopped the garden clean-up crew from destroying the young saplings and moved them to the University’s nursery programme to study further.
Professor Perold was born in Cape Town in 1880 and obtained his BA Degree in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. He travelled extensively to Europe, being tasked with extending the range of grapes in the Cape. He returned with 177 varietals and became the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Stellenbosch University. He later joined KWV where he made huge contributions to the wine industry in South Africa.
The Pinotage’s success is simply a few twists of fate as it missed the
chance of being dug up by the crew, as well as managed to avoid being taken out by disease. The seedlings were reestablished in the nursery at Elsenburg Agricultural College by Prof CJ Theron. During 1935 he grafted material of the Pinotage seedlings that were located at Welgevallen and soon after, it was established that these varieties were so infected with disease that they had to be destroyed.
The first commercial plantings was made on the farm Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry’s Pass in 1943 and the wine was made with a normal wine making method. The wine proved to be more full bodied and a more intense colour than other varietals. However, it had a more acetone like vinosity which wasn’t too well received by everyone. This tended to disappear after two years of maturation and the wine tended to take on a softer, rounder palate which we know and love today.
The name Pinotage was first used on the 1959 Lanzerac Pinotage in 1961 and the cultivar started gaining steam when the Morkels from Bellevue won the prize for best wine at the 1959 Cape Young Wine Show. Kanonkop’s late Senator, Paul Sauer also took huge strides to make the cultivar more popular. Interestingly, Pinotage’s popularity dropped substantially in the 80’s and it was only when 1990 rolled around that the interest started being regenerated in the grapes.
We have picked our favourite Pinotage’s which can be found right here at Cybercellar.
From one of the most loved estates in the Swart
land comes this beautiful Pinotage from the Siebritskloof Series which has received a lot of recognition and awards. Rated 91 points in the Tim Atkin report, this wine has undergone underwent spontaneous fermentation of which partial carbonic and also whole bunches during the three weeks skin contact.
This has to get a special mention for being the first estate to label it Pinotage. A Michelangelo Trophy winner, this wine will take five to ten years start to acquire the velvet density and luxurious chocolate and caramel flavours of its very early Lanzerac predecessors.
Receiving a Platter 4.5 star, this Pinotage is an exquisitely dark wine with intense dark fruit character. The Top of the Hill Pinotage reveals harmonious balance within an elegantly structured tannic backbone. This premium red is an excellent portrayal of varietal hallmarks.
From one of the oldest Pinotage vineyards in South Africa comes this rich and delicious red. With strong spice, liquorices and black fruit hallmarks, this is the perfect investment Pinotage. This quote can be found above the doorway:
“Pinotage is the juice extracted from women’s tongues and lions’ hearts. After having a sufficient quantity one can talk forever and fight the devil”